mueller32_Jon CherryGetty Images_riot Jon CherryGetty Images

The Far Right’s New-Old War on Women

From the Trumpists who attacked the US Capitol to far-right populists in Europe, insecurities about women are a major ideological motivation that often goes underappreciated. Mainstream conservatives, in particular, should be wary of the role that gender issues play in opening the door to extremists.

PRINCETON – A grim ten-year anniversary last month did not go unmarked. On July 22, commentators around the world duly commemorated the 77 victims of a Norwegian far-right terrorist who detonated a bomb outside the prime minister’s office in downtown Oslo and then massacred teenagers attending a Labour Party summer camp on the island of Utøya.

Most of these analyses aimed to understand the horror by way of the perpetrator’s “closely intertwined anti-Muslim and anti-social democratic sentiment.” While some expressed relief that he has not inspired more copycats, others used the occasion to indict “neoliberalism” and other monocausal abstractions. Strikingly absent from the punditry was the killer’s evident misogyny.

After more than a decade of witnessing a global resurgence of the far right, we continue to underestimate the importance of gender – especially defenses of patriarchy – as a bridge between extremists and the mainstream conservatives who are increasingly willing to collaborate with them.

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